La maquette de Zédé et Verne

The Gustav Zédé Model


At first view I dismissed the Zédé model as a curiosity, but then it began to intrigue me, especially the attributed 1868 date, the year before Verne wrote 20,000 Leagues.  The model has many of the features of Nemo's Nautilus but it is clearly smaller and differs in other important details.  Nonetheless, I was so taken with Greg Sharpe's Zédé plans I made a 3D model and then scratch built this replica for my desk. 
My scratch-built replica     Greg's Deep Sea Designs plans with their nice scales and overall dimensional information were my original source for the model.  I first made the 3D computer model (using RayDream Studio) and this inspired me to construct an actual size replica.  The original model is only 150 mm long, slightly less than six inches, and I thought it would go nicely on my desk.  Jerry Pavano supplied  photos of the original that were helpful because they show color and provide three dimensional information not available from the plans.  The plans, the photos, and various views of the RayDream model all contributed to successful completion of the replica. 
Another view of the replicaNotice the US penny in the photo above as an indication of the model's size.  

It had been years since I undertook a project like this and the small scale, although it minimized some tedious cutting, sanding, and painting tasks, meant lots of tiny detail work with tweezers, toothpicks, and pins.



I invested a lot of time in the model, but the material cost was low.   The oak base cost more than the model and the plaque with engraving cost more than anything.

A more detailed look

The deck railings on the model above, constructed of pins and wire, are more like the original than those on the more idealized 3D model.  The illustrations below are simple renderings of the RayDream model, constructed first and used to work out some details for scratch building.  
3D model elevation
3D model plan
3D model bow view 3D model stern viewThe thickness of the fins, apparently determined by the available material, emphasizes this is a concept model not meant to represent an actual vessel.  See my discussion of the model features and their possible relationship to the Nautilus on the Design Catalog page.  



The plaque on my replica Jerry Pavano's SubCommittee Report article about the model appears in the December 2000 issue.

The plaque on the 3D model

In correspondence in 1999, Ron Miller expressed doubts about the date and that the model really was a 20,000 Leagues collaboration between Verne and Zédé, citing  historical information that indicates Zédé did not become involved with submarines until the mid 1880s, and the model's resemblance to the submarine he did build then.  Jean Gagneux also argues persuasively against the collaboration.

Me, I want to believe the date.  I'd noticed the resemblance to Zédé's own later design but would like to believe conversations between the two sparked Zédé's interest in submarines.  I can imagine Verne talking with him about the Nautilus, over cigars, and asking him how such a submarine might look.

Learn much more about Jules Verne's Nautilus starting here.

Click to view the color model in 3D with MetaStream

Click the image just above to view a 3D color MetaStream version of the model.

Do you have a comment or a question?  E-mail me.

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This page and its contents, including photos and illustrations © Copyright 2000 Michael & Karen Crisafulli
3 Dec 00